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Creative ways to teach malaria education to young children in Ghana, West Africa
Creative ways to teach malaria education to young children in Ghana, West Africa
Teaching malaria education to young children in Ghana, West Africa
PWA Volunteer teaching malaria education to young children in Ghana, West Africa
Creative malaria prevention education

Malaria Prevention Programme First Update

Date Posted: 16/02/2016

The first of Partner West Africa's Malaria Prevention Programme Updates.

This article on our Malaria Prevention Programme will be the first in a short series describing the work that Partner West Africa is engaged in, both here in the UK and in Ghana, West Africa.

Malaria and other mosquito borne diseases have been much in the news lately. Attempts to find vaccines and to control the environmental factors that enable mosquitos to flourish have been increasing but still the disease kills millions every year and now a new strain is linked to deformity in babies, especially in parts of the South American continent.

Here are some facts from the World Health Organisation (WHO):

Cases, 2015

  • Globally: 214 million

Deaths, 2015

  • Globally: 438,000
  • 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa
  • 78% occur in children under five

Population at risk

  • 3.2 billion (half of the world population), of whom 1.2 billion are at high risk

Partner West Africa supports work in sub-Saharan Africa-in Ghana, one of the countries in the high risk category. Our main projects are with children and families in communities local to our base there; communities where malaria is a killer. Malaria thrives around stagnant water and most of the villages around us do not have running water supplies, sanitation or waste disposal.

So, we know malaria at first hand, from watching our own colleagues develop the disease and, thank goodness, be successful in fighting it in themselves, to helping desperate parents with sick children in the villages around us.

Part of the ongoing provision for the children in the PWA Daycare & Nursery Centre we support in Ghana is healthcare-making sure that the children have a nutritious diet and access to the Ghanaian healthcare system when necessary.  This is routine.  However, it is clear that more needed to be done to fight malaria so in partnership with our volunteering department, Volunteer West Africa, we devised a malaria prevention programme which began in January 2016.

Malaria prevention work is usually characterized by the provision of nets and other anti-mosquito repellents and this has been carried out in the past by others in the areas where we work.  However, the long term impact on the incidence of malaria is not discernible.  There are surprising reasons for this which were discovered when the project started.  The project team began with research into what the parents in the community knew about malaria-what it was, what caused it and how to prevent it.  Here is an extract from an early report:

 

“A short set of questions was devised to ascertain parents’ knowledge about malaria. Of those seen so far, the range of answers on what causes it and what transmits it is wide. There are many misconceptions, for example, it is caused by playing in the sun, it comes from food, it is sent by the spirits.  Parents can describe some symptoms, such as fever but also listed others that were not correct, such as yellow urine, runny nose etc.

From the parents we have spoken to so far, it is clear that we will need to clarify what malaria is. A lot of people describe symptoms consistent with the common cold.  Also, clarification will be needed on how it is transmitted. In addition to the misconceptions (listed in the previous paragraph) people seem to think it can be transmitted person to person similarly to how a cold is transmitted.

It has been good to hear that a lot of parents take their children to the health clinic or hospital when their child is ill. However, there are some parents who do not get their child tested for malaria and instead go straight to the store to buy medication ‘with the big mosquito on it’. Education about treatment is required.

So far there has been enthusiasm to take part in an education programme and prevention programme and the parents were very pleased that we were doing something. Most don’t have nets. Some do but were given these in the past without any education so the nets have not been treated or repaired. Broken nets have not been replaced as it has been too expensive.”

 

These findings confirmed that education had to be at the heart of the prevention work. The project team devised a set of lessons for the children in the daycare centre which combine information with craft activities and games. We have included some photographs of the children in this article.

On February 16th the team ran their first workshop with the community which was attended by the local community nurse as well as PWA staff and the children from the daycare centre who showed what they had learned in class.

The project team are also trying to source enough nets, malaria test kits and appropriate medicine to treat children with malaria, before embarking on the next phases of the project-screening for malaria and putting preventative mechanisms in place.

The project team are led by a paediatric nurse who is on a year long placement with PWA through Volunteer West Africa.  In the early stages she was working with another volunteer with a background in pathology who was responsible for much of the ground work and also for devising the lessons that the children now receive on a regular basis. Other health professionals will join the team as the work progresses.  The funding to start the project came from a donation from someone in the UK, a lifelong supporter of his own community. We are very grateful to him and his family for that generosity. We would also like to thank those who have made donations of some of the nets that will be used in later stages of the project.

The photographs are of some of the children learning about mosquitos and malaria.

If you would like to help with this important work, please see the malaria volunteer programme. If you wish to make a donation to help with the costs please click here.

Author: Partner West Africa

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